SURREY, B.C. — A failure to deliver on high expectations led to the B.C. Lions’ decision to dismiss head coach DeVone Claybrooks on Wednesday, a few days after the team completed a disappointing 5-13 season with a 21-16 loss to Calgary.
"The best classification I can make is that we failed," Lions president Rick LeLacheur told assembled media at the team’s practice facility on Wednesday.
"We failed as a team," he said. "We failed on the field, we failed off the field and it’s our job to make sure we fix it. In evaluations of the entire organization, we felt it in the best interest of the B.C. Lions football club that we would move on with a new head coach. Unfortunately, these things happen. They’re never nice but it is part of the game."
Claybrooks was hired last December to replace Wally Buono, who retired at the end of the 2018 season after 46 years in the CFL. Claybrooks joined the Lions after seven years with the Stampeders, including three as defensive co-ordinator, and went out on top as Calgary won the Grey Cup last fall.
Despite a long list of high-profile off-season signings that included quarterback Mike Reilly, wide receiver Duron Carter and offensive lineman Sukhn Chungh, the Lions stumbled out of the gate under Claybrooks’ leadership, winning just one of their first 11 games.
At the end of August, offensive line coach Bryan Chiu, one of six first-year assistants working under Claybrooks, was replaced by Kelly Bates. The team went on a four-game winning streak, but couldn’t sustain those results.
The Lions’ season effectively ended in Week 19, when they were eliminated from the playoffs after a loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in which Reilly suffered a season-ending wrist injury.
General manager Ed Hervey, in his second year with the Lions, said he and the rest of the organization also bear responsibility for the disappointing on-field results.